EVERETT — On Friday night, Everett head coach Dennis Williams said he texted his captain, Connor Dewar, and apprised that the team had to prepare on Saturday morning as if they would need to load up the bus for Game 6 at Tri-City on Sunday afternoon. Even with a 3-1 lead, the Silvertips wouldn’t presume anything.
“They’re a good hockey team and they won’t roll over, we might have had to pack up tonight,” Williams said. “As I told our guys this morning, pack your stuff for a Sunday game at 5 (p.m.). We make the decision (tonight) if you leave it in your car.”
But on Saturday, the Silvertips ensured that wasn’t remotely necessary.
The Silvertips thumped Tri-City, 9-1, at Angel of the Winds Arena to finish off the Americans in five games and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
“I think right from the start we came out and we were all over them,” Dewar said. “When you’re down 3-1 in a series, there’s doubt in your mind, right? So when you’re down a couple it’s tough to stay with it and dig out of a hole. We tried to take advantage of the situation.”
The Silvertips did so in emphatic fashion.
Bryce Kindopp set the rout in motion with the first of his three goals, cashing in the feed from Gage Goncalves in the first period
Kindopp, who was Everett’s leading goal scorer during the regular season with 39, recorded his second career hat trick to power the Silvertips’ offense.
Capping off the series with a hat trick is a nice confident boost for Kindopp, who didn’t record a goal in the first two games, but scored in each of the last three.
“It’s a confidence boost for sure,” he said.
The 19-year-old forward’s second and third goals of the contest came late in the game. He punched in a rebound at 11:44 of the second after Lucas Cullen whipped a shot on frame to put Everett up 6-0. His third was an unassisted goal at 2:07 in the third to put the Silvertips up 7-0, sending hats flying on to the ice surface.
The though of returning to Kennewick was nice motivation for a career night for Kindopp.
“We packed our stuff just in case, but we knew we weren’t going back there,” he said. “Throwing all my clothes in my duffel bag, that was motivating for sure.”
His second was Everett’s eighth goal of the evening, snapping a shot past Tri-City goaltender Talyn Boyko, who relieved Beck Warm in the second period, from the slot.
Martin Fasko-Rudas tallied his fourth goal of the playoffs at 18:53 in the first period, whacking in a rebound at 18:53.
Connor Dewar scored his third goal of the playoffs with a goal at 1:27 in the second period. Goncalves forced a turnover and Dewar ripped an initial shot that clanged off the right post, but he collected the rebound, skated around the net and snapped a shot from the right circle and in.
Goncalves followed at 9:26, coming on for his shift and snapping a shot over Warm’s glove for his second of the playoffs. The rookie forward has scored more goals in the postseason than he did during the regular season, where he scored one.
A younger player stepping up is a positive sign for Everett’s short-term and long-term future.
“It’s probably something he’ll draw back on when he’s in the shoes of the go-to guy,” Dewar said. “It’s good to get everyone confident and scoring in the playoffs, because you never know when some guys will dry up and get tough to score.”
Kyle Olson scored the Americans’ only goal of the night on the power play at 10:35.
Ronan Seeley scored his first career playoff goal at 11:12 in the third by clapping a shot from the right point to put Everett up 9-1.
The 16-year-old defenseman hasn’t logged many shifts this postseason, but in the blowout he was able to contribute, something Williams said he enjoyed seeing.
“It’s awesome when those guys get that reward,” Williams said. “He’s been a great teammate and it hasn’t been easy. He hasn’t played a lot of minutes. He’s dressed every game but played a very limited role. That isn’t easy doing, especially as a young player.”
Goalie Dustin Wolf made 17 of 18 saves for the Silvertips in 51 minutes, 12 seconds of work before being relieved by Max Palaga.
Kindopp (three goals, one assist) and Dewar (one goal, three assists) led the Silvertips with four points. Andrusiak (two goals) and Goncalves (one goal, two assists) added three-point outings. Fasko-Rudas (one goal, one assist), Wyatte Wylie (two assists) and Robbie Holmes (two assists) rounded out Everett’s multi-point scorers.
Everett will face Spokane in the next round after the Chiefs knocked off Portland, 4-1, on Saturday night at the Spokane Arena to wrap up their series in five games.
No current Silvertips’ player has seen their WHL season end any earlier than the first round of playoffs, as the Silvertips have advanced out of the first round for the fifth consecutive season, an impressive feat for any franchise.
But Everett is a team with much bigger dreams than just hitting the franchise’s status quo.
“It’s nice,” Dewar said of advancing, “but we haven’t really done anything yet. There’s a lot more to be done.”
The Silvertips begin a seven-game series with the Chiefs on Saturday at Angel of the Winds Arena for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. The series will take on a two-three-two format, due to the Arena hosting Cirque Du Soleil from April 10 to April 14.
— The nine goals is the most in the franchise history for the postseason.
— The Silvertips have won all three of their playoff home games and haven’t lost at Angel of the Winds Arena since Feb. 22, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Williams on the Americans “A lot of credit to Tri-City. It’s a lot closer than the scores. It was a battle through and through and a lot of credit and class to those guys there at the end in the last seven, eight minutes. I thought it was just trying to get the clock down and nobody was running around on both sides. I have a lot of respect for their organization and coach Kelly (Buchberger).”